Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, April 12, 2006
What do you get when you’re served beef fajitas with a kalamata salad? If you’re sitting at Taqueria Rey, full.
Taqueria Rey
Carne guisada lunch special
w/salad $6.50
Taco de carnita $1.50
Taco de lengua $1.50
Pasta marinara lunch special
w/salad $3.25
Red, White, and Green

A big, delicious mix of cuisines, nationalities, and flag colors takes shape at Taqueria Rey.


Taqueria Rey

3637 W Vickery Blvd, FW. 817-731-1135. Mon-Tue 9am-3pm, Wed-Thu 9am-8pm, Fri-Sat 9am-9pm, Sun 9am-5pm. All major credit cards accepted.

n the surface, Italians and Mexicans have a lot in common — they’re known for partying, working the family farm, and inviting the entire neighborhood over for a huge meal now and then. It’s a mystery why some crafty local restaurateur hasn’t put their cuisines together under one roof before now.

Enter Chicagoan Alberto Medina. His newly opened Taqueria Rey on West Vickery Street by Fazeke’s Gym and Railhead Smokehouse is highly recommended, and not just for having the cojones to offer Italian and Mexican food. This no-frills joint does homecooking really well.

Don’t expect ambitious recipes. Here, you’ll find the old standbys, but whipped up with personality and served by friendly staffers. The cream sauce of the chicken fettuccini was thick, gooey, and loaded with al dente broccoli heads, and the flaky tortilla chips that preceded the entrée, accompanied by lively red salsa, were filling yet not too salty.

The generous portion of the carne guisada fell apart at the touch of the fork, and though the fleshy contents of the taco de lengua (beef tongue) and taco de carnita (fried pork) both could have been juicier, we’re not complaining: At $1.50 each, these bad boys are quite the take-out snack. Throw a little lime juice in there and some salsa verde, and, unlike at Taco Hell, you’re honestly good to go.

Clearly, Mexican grub is Medina’s forte, though he takes admirable stabs at Italian. But call ahead before setting your heart on one of the labor-intensive Italian dishes. On the day of a recent visit, the lasagna that’s listed on the menu was unavailable.

The good news is that the back-up and also the day’s special, pasta marinara, totally hit the spot. Equal parts comfort food and zesty pick-me-up, the dish arrived steaming hot and loaded with perfectly cooked fettuccini, a bevy of tomato chunks, and a garlicky, peppery afterbite. To further critic-proof the meal, the dish came with a huge Italian house salad dressed in tart oil and vinegar, and the entire deal cost — hold your breath — $3.25! Anyone within 10 miles of West Vickery who’s in the mood for either Mexican or Italian and goes anyplace other than Taqueria Rey should be lashed 20 times with a wet noodle — or slapped with a tortilla.

Unless you’re one of those skinny model types, that is. Then feel free to drive on by. Even though Taqueria Rey is located near a gym, there’s nothing diet-conscious about the entrées or the desserts — sugar-packed pastries that are licensed to kill. Why bother hitting the gym, anyway, when you can give your arms a serious work-out by hoisting two or three Bull’s Eyes? Incredibly dense balls of dough filled with jelly and covered in coconut shavings, these manifestations of pure evil probably weigh about 10 pounds apiece. Of course, if you have one and are even remotely concerned about the circumference of your waistline, you may not want to eat for the rest of the week. Yeah, you could stuff your face with three dozen Krispy Kreme donuts and approximate the same effect as one Bull’s Eye, but, again, why bother?

Taqueria Rey wasn’t built for snackers, and you probably wouldn’t want to take a first date here, either — the place is completely devoid of music, candles, or anything else that smacks of “ambiance,” and the predominant color inside is a warm, harmless, soporific brown. Medina’s pride and joy clearly was put together to serve big eaters with extremely tasty, highly caloric, incredibly affordable Italian and Mexican fare — and fast. In light of the apparent mission, this little eatery exceeds expectations.

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